cover image Murdering Mr. Monti: A Merry Little Tale of Sex and Violence

Murdering Mr. Monti: A Merry Little Tale of Sex and Violence

Judith Viorst. Simon & Schuster, $20.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-76074-8

Barbing her trademark insight with humor, the multi-talented Viorst, known for her verse ( It's Hard to Be Hip Over Thirty and Other Atrocities of Married Life ), children's books ( Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day ) and nonfiction ( Necessary Losses ), hits another bull's-eye with this mystery, subtitled ``A Merry Little Tale of Sex and Violence.'' Syndicated advice columnist Brenda Kovner, recently turned 46, is also a wife (of pediatric surgeon Jake), mother (of entrepreneur Jeff and social worker Wally) and sister (of many-careered Rosalie), who lives in a suburb of Washington, D.C. Optimistic, positive and with a characteristic ``can-do'' attitude that she applies to all problems--not just her own--Brenda decides that only murder will end the dangers imposed on her family by Joseph Monti in his zeal to break the engagement between his daughter and her son Wally. Though not the ``murdering kind,'' Brenda decides that homicide is possible for her, a woman who, in an effort to learn what sex would be like with someone other than her husband, recently executed a plan to sleep with three different men in 24 hours. More compelling than the details of Brenda's murder arrangements are the gradually, and expertly, revealed circumstances surrounding her liaisons and their repercussions. Brenda's determined cheerfulness and constant interference may bring murder to the minds of many in Viorst's sharply limned cast, but readers, laughing their way to the last page, will be glad to have made this Mom's acquaintance. Author tour. (Jan.)